Heavy Shelling Rocks Tigray Capital As Ethiopia Steps Up Offensive
Addis Ababa, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 28th Nov, 2020 ) :Heavy shelling rocked the capital of Ethiopia's Tigray region Saturday as the city of half a million braced for an all-out offensive by government forces against its dissident leaders.
"The Tigray regional state calls upon all who have a clear conscience, including the international community, to condemn the artillery and warplane attacks and massacres being committed," the statement said.
More than three weeks of fierce fighting has left thousands dead "including many civilians as well as security forces", the International Crisis Group said Friday.
Abiy announced Thursday he had ordered a "final" offensive on TPLF leaders, and Ethiopia's military says it has encircled the city.
A communications blackout in Tigray has made it difficult to verify claims from both sides about how the fighting is going.
A spokesman for a crisis committee formed in response to hostilities in Tigray did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday about reported shelling in Mekele, which has already been hit by air strikes.
A spokeswoman for Abiy's office referred AFP to past statements indicating military operations would be undertaken "strategically" to avoid undue harm to civilians.
"The Tigray regional state would like it to be known to friends and enemies alike that it will give proportional response to the massacres and property damages being done by those fascists," the statement said.
Abiy won his Nobel in large part for initiating a rapprochement with Isaias in 2018.
Ethiopia has denied enlisting Eritrean military support in the ongoing operations in Tigray, though it has acknowledged using Eritrean territory.
-Concern for civilians- Global concern has heightened in recent days for the fate of Mekele's residents, with world leaders and human rights groups warning of possible rules of war violations during operations there.
Pope Francis is among those worried about the intensifying fighting, loss of life and displacement, Vatican media head Matteo Bruni said Friday.
Abiy has repeatedly resisted calls for a halt to fighting and negotiations with TPLF leaders, saying they need to be disarmed and apprehended.
On Friday he met with three African ex-leaders -- Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa -- dispatched this week by the African Union as mediators.
His office said afterwards that the government has a "constitutionally mandated responsibility to enforce rule of law in the region and across the country".